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Jacobs Dynamic endocrine modulation of the nervous system

Gonadal hormones are potent neuromodulators of learning and memory. In rodents and nonhuman primates estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone influence the central nervous system across a range of spatiotemporal scales. Yet, their influence on the structural and functional architecture of the human brain is largely unknown. In this talk, I review new evidence from precision imaging studies that follow individuals across endocrine inflection points (the diurnal rhythm, menstrual cycle, and pregnancy), revealing hormones’ ability to rapidly and dynamically shape properties of the human brain. I close by considering why women’s health research is decades behind where it should be, and how we can accelerate the pace of change so the scientific body of knowledge serves all bodies.


Bio: Emily is an Associate Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara and Director of the Ann S. Bowers Women's Brain Health Initiative. She earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UC Berkeley and B.A. in Neuroscience from Smith College. Prior to UCSB she was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School and the Department of Medicine/Division of Women's Health at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Her laboratory uses brain imaging, endocrine, and computational approaches to deepen our understanding of hormone action in the human brain. Major initiatives include the study of endocrine aging during the midlife transition to menopause, pharmacological studies of gonadal hormone suppression, and dense-sampling studies across endocrine transitions. 


She has been named a Hellman Fellow, a Brain and Behavior Young Investigator, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar, a National Institutes of Health Women's Health Fellow, and a National Academy of Sciences Frontiers of Science Kavli Fellow for "distinguished young scientists under 45". In 2022, she was named one of ten scientists to watch by Science News. In addition to research, her lab regularly partners with K-12 groups to advance girls' representation in STEM.